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101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: July 09, 2017, 02:32:49 PM
Intriguing find-- and glad to have it with which to counter certain friends on FB  grin
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Joint cyber security unit with Russia? on: July 09, 2017, 02:26:08 PM
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A friend writes , , , on: July 09, 2017, 11:27:17 AM
"From time to time, I have been importing (purchasing online) rye bread from Finland, since I love its sour taste.  This time when I ordered bread, prior to the bread being shipped from Finland, FedEx said FDA wants my email, which I gave to them. Soon after I received the bread.and ate most of it. Now weeks later, I get a letter from FDA saying that they are investigating the case (import of 6 pcs of bread) and there could be penalties. The bread cost about 10 Euro, shipping was about 30 $ and now I am being threatened with fines. If they had concerns, why did they not stop me early in the process ?, the bread is not home made, its made by a large commercial company which ships worldwide and to the USA for years. I truly wish Trump will put a stop to these 3 letter organizations. Obviously they have too much time on their hands."
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: July 09, 2017, 11:07:24 AM
I have commented on the probabilities of Nork cross-breeding with the Iranians, but in the last couple of days I have seen a number of reports that the Nork mobile missile launcher and other missile related equipment (including parts of missiles in question) were CHINESE.

Would love to have some citations for this.

This does make considerable sense-- my initial read being that the Chinese are being this as a way of forcing us to acquiesce in its conquest of the SCS , , , AND break our alliance with South Korea.
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / American Communist Party was tool of USSR on: July 09, 2017, 10:56:44 AM
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What do we think of this? on: July 08, 2017, 04:35:48 PM
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / President Trump in Poland on: July 08, 2017, 12:55:14 PM
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New Yorker on the Trump-Putin meeting on: July 08, 2017, 12:50:00 PM

I must confess I share the assessment here on the election issue.

The Russian trolling begins , , ,
109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Transgender men in women's showers on: July 08, 2017, 12:38:00 PM
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / More Tiger Woods on: July 08, 2017, 12:27:18 PM
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NRO: Trump's Defense of Western Civilization on: July 08, 2017, 12:19:15 PM
112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lawfare in CA on: July 07, 2017, 08:07:55 PM
113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WaPo: Pence Commission to store voter data in White House on: July 07, 2017, 04:52:39 PM

Are there legit privacy issues here?
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Trump Transition/Administration on: July 07, 2017, 04:40:07 PM
I saw that-- the mind boggles at the clueless sense of entitlement and lack of responsibility.
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CNN getting doxxed! on: July 07, 2017, 04:39:03 PM
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Putin's assist for Norks on: July 06, 2017, 10:51:43 PM
second post

Putin’s Assist for North Korea
Russia sends a message to Trump by nixing a U.N. resolution.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, inspects the preparation of the missile launch, July 4.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, inspects the preparation of the missile launch, July 4. Photo: /Associated Press
July 6, 2017 7:01 p.m. ET

President Trump meets with Vladimir Putin on Friday, and the Russian strongman sent his early regards on Thursday by nixing a U.S. resolution at the U.N. Security Council condemning North Korea’s latest missile launch. The resolution didn’t stipulate any action, but our friends the Russians still objected.

The Kremlin excuse is that the draft U.S. statement referred to the rocket as an intercontinental ballistic missile. Never mind that North Korea claims the missile was the equivalent of an ICBM, and the U.S. and other analysis of the trajectory and altitude suggest the same.

“The rationale [for Russia’s rejection] is that based on our (Ministry of Defense’s) assessment we cannot confirm that the missile can be classified as an ICBM,” Russia’s U.N. mission said in an email to other Security Council members. “Therefore we are not in a position to agree to this classification on behalf of the whole council since there is no consensus on this issue.”

The likelier explanation is that Mr. Putin wanted to send a message that he can make trouble if Mr. Trump resists a “reset” in U.S.-Russia ties. Russia has also joined with China in trying to coax the U.S. and South Korea to cease military exercises in Northeast Asia in return for North Korea freezing its nuclear program. But that would merely ratify Pyongyang’s current stockpile and missile progress, assuming it even honored such a freeze, which it would not.

Russia and China are authoritarian powers seeking to dominate their regions, but the problem with tolerating such “spheres of influence” is that regional powers often collaborate to stir trouble beyond those spheres. As they are now abetting North Korea.

Appeared in the July 7, 2017, print edition.
117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: With or without US, trade goes on on: July 06, 2017, 10:46:18 PM
Japanese and European Union leaders on Thursday announced an agreement in principle to remove tariffs on 99% of goods as well as other barriers to trade. While it will be phased in over many years and some obstacles remain, the deal overcomes Japan’s reluctance to open its market to food products as well as Europe’s resistance to a free market for Japanese cars. Some have dubbed the deal “cars for cheese,” but its effects will be more far-reaching than bilateral trade.

In particular it contains a message for Donald Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal with Japan and 10 other Pacific nations and has halted negotiations with Europe on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Trade will go on around the world whether or not the U.S. decides to participate. Had the U.S. remained in the Pacific pact, American farmers and other exporters could have enjoyed the increased sales to Japan that are now on offer to Europeans.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is considering punitive tariffs on imported steel and other products under an obscure provision of a 1962 law. This could lead to tit-for-tat sanctions against American exporters, tie up the U.S. in cases at the World Trade Organization and make it more difficult to secure the opening of foreign markets to American goods.

If the U.S. continues on this protectionist path while the rest of the world pursues far-reaching trade deals, the effects are predictable. American exporters will have to pay more for their materials and face higher barriers abroad than their competitors. Consumers will pay higher prices. This will cost American jobs and reduce incomes.

The Trump Administration says it still plans to pursue bilateral trade deals, which is in keeping with the President’s transactional view of diplomacy. But this may prove difficult if the U.S. is simultaneously raising tariffs and defending WTO cases brought by trading partners.

The U.S. will pay a steeper price if trade blocs such as TPP proceed without America and forge links with other regions. While other countries’ firms will benefit from new multilateral rules, U.S. companies will have to navigate what Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati calls a “spaghetti bowl” of rules under bilateral agreements.

For instance, a preferential tariff on a particular product may only be available if the exporter can show that a certain percentage of the content was made in that country. The bureaucratic complications mean that many companies don’t even apply to use the benefits offered under bilateral deals, and it may mean U.S. companies with global customers must move plants out of America to stay competitive.

That’s why multilateral agreements are key to the formation of the complex supply chains trading the components that make up most consumer goods. The Japan-EU deal is still bilateral, but it could become the basis for more deals that exclude the U.S. If Washington cedes trade leadership, it risks being left behind as other countries set the rules and expand trade among themselves.

The irony is that the productivity of American manufacturers leads the world, and employment is rebounding. At a moment when U.S. firms could grow their exports, the Trump Administration is burning bridges. The EU-Japan deal is a warning that others will take up trade leadership and capture the prosperity that Americans should enjoy.
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Israel-India; Bibi and Modi on: July 06, 2017, 10:44:16 PM
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: July 06, 2017, 10:35:11 PM
But wait!  There's more!

And we have yet to discuss recently what seems to me the probability that Iran is working with the Norks on both missiles and bombs.  The Norks lack cash and recently somehow Iran has come into $150B US.

If we allow the Norks to establish this capability, it seems probable the the Iranians will do so as well.
120  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 06, 2017, 10:25:46 PM
Gracias DDF.
121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: July 06, 2017, 05:59:15 PM
Worth noting, if I have it correcting is that the Sork weenie president got in because the sounder voters were divided between two other candidates?

As for whether the Sorks are "all in" having their capital city and its sprawl (something like our DC, NYC, and LA all rolled into one) in range of several thousand Nork artillery bunkered in mountain sides can affect the will to fight.  I doubt most Americans would be up to it under similar circumstances. 

That said, "So what?"

122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Atlantic: Reborn into Terrorism on: July 06, 2017, 05:56:40 PM

Reborn Into Terrorism

Why are so many ISIS recruits ex-cons and converts?
An ISIS flag in a Lebanese refugee camp Ali Hashisho / Reuters

    Simon Cottee Jan 25, 2016 Global

In 2014, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the organizer of the November 2015 Paris attacks, appeared in a video, driving a pickup truck with a mound of corpses in tow. Speaking to the camera before driving off, he said: “Before we towed jet skis, motorcycles, quad bikes, big trailers filled with gifts for vacation in Morocco. Now, thank God, following God’s path, we’re towing apostates.” This was a derogatory reference to his victims, who, in his mind, were renegades from the Muslim faith and thus legitimate targets for slaughter. But it was also a telling allusion to his own irreligious past, before he found God and joined ISIS and started murdering people.

Indeed, Abaaoud was once a wayward soul with a rap sheet. His sister Yasmina told The New York Times that Abaaoud didn’t show any particular interest in religion prior to his departure for Syria, and “did not even go to the mosque.” But he had gone to prison several times, and it was apparently there, like so many Western jihadists, that he grew radical.

Brahim Abdeslam, who blew himself up in the Paris attacks, seems to have been intimately acquainted with criminality as well: The bar he owned in Molenbeek, Brussels was shut down by police a week before the attacks over concerns about the illegal sale of drugs there. And Brahim’s brother Salah, a suspected Paris assailant who remains at large, was not your typical finger-waving ideological fanatic: He reportedly visited gay bars and was more likely to be seen rolling a joint than a prayer mat.
Related Story

The Pre-Terrorists Among Us

According to a recent Washington Post article, Abaaoud and his crew of assassins represent a “new type of jihadist”—“part terrorist, part gangster,” who uses “skills honed in lawbreaking” for the ends of “violent radicalism.”

“European jails have been breeding grounds of Islamist radicals for years, particularly in Belgium and France,” the Post’s Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet write. “But recently, criminality and extremism have become even more interwoven, with recruits’ illegal behavior continuing even after they are shown ‘the light’ of radical Islam.”

This is an acute observation, although it’s scarcely surprising that Westernized recruits to ISIS are just as deviant and lawless as their patrons in Syria and Iraq—the true originators of punk jihad, where anything goes and nothing, not even the weaponization of children, is off-limits. After all, the spiritual founder of ISIS, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was a violent thug both before and after his embrace of Salafi jihadism.

Like Abaaoud and Zarqawi, Siddhartha Dhar (a.k.a. Abu Rumaysah), the latest British-accented ISIS recruit to gain notoriety for his suspected role in the group’s videos, also broke dramatically with his past: He was a Hindu before gravitating toward radical Islam, although, unlike Abaaoud and Zarqawi, Dhar didn’t have a history of violence, robbery, or drug-dealing, and hadn’t done any jail time. Instead, he rented out bouncy castles to the kafirs he came to loathe.

These biographical traits have cropped up in numerous studies. In his survey of 31 incidents of jihadist terrorism in Europe between September 2001 and October 2006, Edwin Bakker found that at least 58 of the 242 perpetrators of these attacks—or 24 percent, a “strikingly high number,” he says—had a criminal record prior to their arrest for terrorism-related offenses. According to a study by Robin Simcox, of 58 individuals linked to 32 ISIS-related plots in the West between July 2014 and August 2015, 22 percent had a past criminal record or were in contact with law enforcement.

Simcox also found that 29 percent of these individuals were converts to Islam. Converts, he reported, accounted for 67 percent of American Muslims involved in committing or planning an ISIS-related attack—“a significantly disproportionate percentage, considering that they comprise only 20% of Muslims throughout the entire United States.” Converts are similarly overrepresented among convicted British jihadists. According to Scott Kleinman and Scott Flower, converts constitute an estimated 2 to 3 percent of Britain’s 2.8 million Muslims, yet “converts have been involved in 31% of jihadist terrorism convictions in the UK from 2001 to 2010.”

What is it about ISIS, and militant Islamist groups in general, that makes them attractive both to criminals and to converts or born-again Muslims?

In The True Believer, published in 1951, the philosopher Eric Hoffer suggested that mass movements hold a special appeal to “sinners,” providing “a refuge from a guilty conscience.” “Mass movements,” he wrote, “are custom-made to fit the needs of the criminal—not only for the catharsis of his soul but also for the exercise of his inclinations and talents.”
High-risk, high-intensity Islamist activism seems tailor-made for the needs of criminals and ex-cons.

This also applies to jihadist groups like ISIS, which promise would-be recruits not just action and violence, but also redemption.

In his 2005 study of al-Muhajiroun, a banned Islamist movement based in Britain with reputed connections to ISIS, Quintan Wiktorowicz detailed the multiple material and social costs attached to what he calls “high-risk Islamic activism.” He mentioned one al-Muhajiroun document in which members are sternly warned to refrain from behaviors ranging from “listening to music and radio” and “window shopping and spending hours in the market,” to “hanging out with friends” and “joking around and being sarcastic.” The organization’s activism, Wiktorowicz observed, is “fast-paced, demanding, and relentless.” It also bristles “against the mainstream,” generating a “kind of excitement often found in counterculture movements rebelling against the status quo.” Many members, he noted, “seem to enjoy their role as ‘outsiders.’”

But more crucially, Wiktorowicz argued, al-Muhajiroun promotes the idea of spiritual salvation—socializing its members to believe that their sacrifices in the here-and-now will be rewarded in the hereafter.

High-risk, high-intensity Islamist activism, in other words, seems tailor-made for the needs of criminals and ex-cons, providing them with a supportive community of fellow outsiders, a schedule of work, a positive identity, and the promise of cleansing away past sins.

Can the same be said for converts to Islam or born-again Muslims?

A common line of argument among scholars is that converts to Islam are insufficiently knowledgeable about their new faith and thus acutely vulnerable to extremist interpretations of Islam, which they lack the intellectual or theological resources to counter. While this explanation seems intuitively plausible, it assumes that converts to Islam know less about their newfound religion than Muslims who were born and raised into it. Yet the evidence for this claim is shaky, and at odds with studies showing just how engaged and well-versed many converts are in debates over matters of faith. The idea that converts, lacking in religious knowledge, are peculiarly susceptible to demagogic manipulation also carries the implication that those with a deep knowledge of Islam are unlikely to join jihadist groups. This, too, is a contentious point—and it’s unclear whether it could even be empirically established, given how contested Islamic knowledge is. More contentious still, this logic essentializes Islam as inherently pacifist, suggesting that some true or proper understanding of the faith would serve as a repellent against deviant jihadist interpretations. But what Islam is or isn’t is an open (and indeed volatile) question; there is not one “true” Islam, but a plurality of Islams, each competing for epistemological hegemony.
Converts to Islam are perennial outsiders. They are “doubly marginalized.”

A more promising explanation lies in the social situation of converts in the West, and their status as apostates or defectors from the non-Islamic faith or secular world into which they were born and acculturated. In an illuminating article on “court Jews and Christian renegades,” the sociologist Lewis A. Coser wrote, “The renegade is, as it were, forever on trial.” Indeed: “He must continually prove himself worthy of his new status and standing.”

Converts to Islam are perennial outsiders, fully belonging neither to the Muslim communities into which they convert nor to the communities they leave behind. They are “doubly marginalized,” as Kate Zebiri puts it in her study British Muslim Converts. This, more than any cognitive failings on their part, may explain the nature of their vulnerability to jihadist groups, which offer potential recruits not only belonging, but also seemingly irrefutable proof of commitment to the faith: self-sacrifice and ultimately death. It may also make them more lethal as jihadist talent, since their eagerness to prove their new commitment may push them to ever greater extremes.

Yet this hypothesis depends on the assumption that the converts in jihadist groups were in any meaningful sense converts to Islam prior to becoming jihadists, rather than the other way round: that they converted to jihadism before, or at the same time as, they became Muslims, so that their conversion to Islam was, as the political scientist Olivier Roy recently argued, “opportunistic” and thus a consequence of, and not an antecedent to, their conversion to jihadism.

One way of clarifying the sequencing in these situations would be to look closely at the convert’s social milieu and the circumstances in which he or she converted to Islam. According to Roy, the “second-generation Muslims and native converts” who dominate the European jihadist scene were “radicalized within a small group of ‘buddies’ who met in a particular place (neighborhood, prison, sport club)” and who “recreate a ‘family,’ a brotherhood,” often with biological ties. They are, he says, in the first instance attracted not to “moderate Islam,” but to the radicalism of violent Salafism, and correspondingly, “almost never have a history of devotion and religious practice.”
Radicalized European youth, disaffected from their own societies, are not seeking Islam, but “a cause.”

In short, Roy argues, echoing the findings of Marc Sageman and Scott Atran, radicalized European youth, disaffected from their own societies, are not seeking Islam, but “a cause, a label, a grand narrative to which they can add the bloody signature of their personal revolt.”

Hoffer reminds us how deeply personal that revolt can be. “A mass movement,” the philosopher wrote, “particularly in its active, revivalist phase, appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self.” For today’s repentant criminals and restless converts, whose “innermost craving is for a new life—a rebirth,” the all-immersive and all-redeeming jihadist project seemingly offers the perfect solution.

123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: July 06, 2017, 12:15:30 PM
In which case we should just STFU?

For those not willing to concede the point, I would add to my list that it is time to have a super candid conversation with the Sork weenie of a president and tell him he needs to take the additional THAADS.  Add in talk about going nuke too!

If the Sorks are not willing to fight for themselves, then WTF are we doing there anyway?  Maybe the capabilities there would be put to better use in asserting right of passage in the SCS?
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: July 06, 2017, 11:58:42 AM
Probably it would be best to make the threat privately at first.

Once it goes public, as is most likely to be the case, world wide stock markets, most certainly including our own, would crash precipitously. 

Are the American people up for this?  Does President Trump have the credibility to make the case? 
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: July 06, 2017, 11:37:34 AM
The Right of Passage sails option would need to be in conjunction with the other measures.  I should also mention more arm sales to Taiwan.  President Trump did this the other day.  More!

As I presently see it, China benefits from and prefers North Korea as it is and has zero interest in helping us.  Trump tweeted yesterday that Chinese trade with the Norks has increased 40% this year even as it pretended to help.

Ditto Russia. Look at the list of conflicts between us: Syria/Middle East/axis with Iran; Crimea/Ukraine; NATO/East Europe/Lavtia, Lithuania, Estonia; the Arctic.  

For both Russia the Norks tie down a major commitment of US assets.

Without a full force "Trade War/Sanctions or Else" threat to China, a threat of CONSIDERABLE risks, China will not change course.  At the very least the Chinese will counter with a demand for recognition of its illegal claims to the South China Sea.

Also see

126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: July 06, 2017, 11:28:43 AM

May I ask you to keep this thread current as well?

Thank you,

PS:  How are YOU doing in the midst of all this?
127  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Politica on: July 06, 2017, 11:27:24 AM
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hell on Earth: on: July 06, 2017, 11:06:53 AM
This comes recommended to me:
129  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Las Mujeres del equipo EU de hockey on: July 06, 2017, 01:52:37 AM!athletes_uswomensnationalhockeyteam
130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did CNN target wrong meme? on: July 06, 2017, 01:34:39 AM
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: July 05, 2017, 11:52:43 PM
Some Options:

* Full force trade and banking sanctions with China
* nukes for Japan
* lots of right of passage sails in SCS
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Austria: free movement under challenge on: July 05, 2017, 11:48:51 PM
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did Vote Fraud Commission fail to say "Mother mayi ?" on: July 05, 2017, 11:30:31 PM
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Internet strikes back at CNN's doxxing threat on: July 05, 2017, 10:00:55 AM

135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Al-Abadi and Iraq on the cusp of ISIS's fall. on: July 05, 2017, 09:24:28 AM
With ISIS on the Run, an Unexpected Leader Emerges in Iraq
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who generated few expectations, stitched together a military alliance and damped sectarianism
An Iraqi girl stands in a destroyed street in Mosul on Sunday.
An Iraqi girl stands in a destroyed street in Mosul on Sunday. Photo: Felipe Dana/Associated Press
By Ben Kesling
July 2, 2017 7:16 p.m. ET

MOSUL, Iraq—Three years ago, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the existence of an Islamic State caliphate and proceeded to sweep his forces through northern Iraq and toward Baghdad, threatening the viability of the fragile country.

Today, the leader declaring an end to the caliphate is someone few would have imagined in the position, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. A man seen as the favorite of none but acceptable to all, the 65-year-old former electrical engineer has managed to turn that tepid sentiment into a defining strength.

Over nearly three years in office, Mr. Abadi has narrowed gaps between Iraq’s warring Shiite and Sunni politicians. He balanced competing interests among geopolitical rivals Iran and the U.S., and spearheaded an overhaul of Iraqi security forces, who had fled advancing Islamic State fighters. Iraq is close to retaking Mosul, Islamic State’s psychologically important stronghold.

“Abadi has magnificently shifted between leading and balancing,” said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “If he led too much then there’d be too many alienated people, and if he balanced too much there would be no forward progress.”

Today, Iraq’s security forces are on the verge of defeating Islamic State, the key requirement if the nation wants to enjoy a stable and cohesive future, despite daunting challenges that remain. Sectarian anger still simmers, and the country’s economy and infrastructure have been devastated by years of fighting.
The ruins on Sunday of the Al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, where militant leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the Islamic State caliphate three years ago.
The ruins on Sunday of the Al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, where militant leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the Islamic State caliphate three years ago. Photo: ahmad al-rubaye/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

“Abadi is riding high,” said one U.S. official in Washington. “But the government needs to show that it can act to make people’s lives better, and probably the window for that is pretty limited. If it doesn’t, all that goodwill Abadi built up will diminish.”

There wasn’t always such a sense of possibility in Iraq. Before Islamic State swept to power in 2014, the country was at its most-fractious since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Mr. Abadi’s predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, was a polarizing figure, accused of fueling sectarian conflict and packing ministries with loyalists.

Transparency International ranked the country near the bottom at 171 of 177 countries world-wide for corruption, with such pervasive problems that the country has only moved up a few positions after years of attempted overhauls. Mr. Maliki didn’t respond to a request for comment, but Sunday released a public statement praising the military and militias.

    Iraq’s Dilemma: Who Will Lead the Next Big Fight Against ISIS? (June 30)
    Islamic State Is Near Defeat in Iraq, Prime Minister Says (June 29)
    Torn by War on ISIS, Mosul Risks Lasting Divisions (June 9)
    Iraqi Forces Close In on Militants in Mosul (June 6)
    Splits Within Iraq’s Three Communities Reshape Its Politics (April 13)

When the festering Syrian civil war next door bled across the border, Iraq’s military crumbled. In June of 2014, militants exploited Iraq’s problems to blitz into Mosul—grabbing nearby land, stores of weapons and oil fields. In Islamic State’s advance, millions of civilians came to live under the Sunni extremist group’s rule.

Some Sunnis initially welcomed the militants as an alternative to the predominantly Shiite government of Mr. Maliki. The implementation of Shariah law followed, where people could be jailed for smoking or executed for unauthorized use of a cellphone.

Amid the turmoil, the conciliatory Mr. Abadi was tapped to become prime minister, an antidote to Mr. Maliki’s divisive rule. He faced growing alarm among Iraq’s allies.

Iran, the world’s biggest Shiite-majority country, couldn’t countenance its neighbor falling to a Sunni extremist group. In 2014 Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the pre-eminent Shiite cleric in Iraq, called on fellow countrymen to rise up to help protect the country; Shiite militias formed that Mr. Abadi has both empowered and theoretically kept under central government control. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s elite Quds Force decided to fund and train many of them.

Ayatollah Sistani, who typically makes public statements via a representative at Friday prayers, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

For Iran, forging such a partnership offered a way to cultivate a new proxy in Iraq and also to nurture others. Iran could revive overland supply routes through Iraq and its other ally, Syria, to Lebanon, where the Shiite political and militant group Hezbollah is based.

For Mr. Abadi, the relationship provided a backstop to a buckling Iraqi military. It also offered a skilled battlefield partner in Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards. Iran’s heavy involvement in Iraq also exposed Mr. Abadi to accusations that he was turning his country into an Iranian pawn.

An official in the office of Iran’s United Nations representative didn’t return a request for comment on Iran’s relationship with Mr. Abadi.

U.S. State Department officials mostly sidestep the thorny issue of Iran’s involvement in Iraq’s war against Islamic State, saying Baghdad was ultimately in charge of the powerful Shiite militias. As part of this balancing act, Mr. Abadi courted the U.S. military for assistance, too, just years after the Americans pulled troops out of the country.
What Would the Fall of Mosul, Raqqa Mean for ISIS?
As Islamic State's control over its strongholds in Iraq and Syria crumble, the extremist group acknowledges that soon not much may be left of its self-declared caliphate. So what does the loss of its territory mean for ISIS and will it bring its fight closer to the West? WSJ's Niki Blasina reports.

In 2014, the U.S. military started a gradual increase of troops with the launch of Operation Inherent Resolve. By the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, more than 5,000 Americans were deployed to Iraq with hundreds close to the front lines of combat. Support has increased under President Donald Trump.

Iraq has benefited from a more than billion-dollar investment by the U.S. to train and equip conventional army troops and special operations forces, and fund U.S. troops in the country. Mr. Abadi also fired generals from the Maliki era and demanded that top officers eschew sectarianism. Those steps brought increased assistance from the U.S., including advanced weapons and air support.

Comparing the current force to that of just a decade ago, when U.S. forces were still leading many operations, Lt. Col. James Downing, a U.S. Army adviser who is near the front lines in Mosul, said, “they are infinitely more capable.”

As the war with Islamic State heated up, Iraq became a tinderbox of crisscrossing rivalries and sectarian tensions. Christian and Sunni minorities in Iraq grew wary of Iran’s growing influence, with those groups forming some of their own militias.

Some Iran-friendly Shiite forces, meanwhile, became openly hostile to U.S. troops. In late 2015, multiple militias pledged to fight U.S. troops if they deployed to Iraq and established bases in the country, harking back to their efforts against Americans during the Iraq war.

Mr. Abadi sought to keep everyone on the same side, largely by lauding the benefits of a unified Iraq, adding Kurdish and Sunni elements to his cabinet and reaching out to Sunni leaders for dialogue.

From the beginning of his tenure, the Iraqi prime minister reached out to Sunni Arab countries in the region while maintaining his ties with Iran. In 2015, the Saudi government reopened its embassy in Baghdad, which had been shuttered decades before in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

Inside Iraq, Mr. Abadi begin to win over the country’s minority Sunnis.

“This government led by Abadi has not met desired levels of ambitions, but if you compare it with the previous government, you will find a big difference,” said Ahmed al-Masari, head of the Sunni political bloc in federal parliament. “Now there are reforms and progress, while during the previous government several provinces fell to terrorism.”

Renad Mansour, a fellow at Chatham House, a London-based internationally focused think tank, said Sunni leaders came to realize a flexible Shiite leader may be their least bad option, especially if they hoped to exercise some power as a minority group in a democratic Iraq. “The Sunnis are past their denial of reality,” he said. “They realize that they’re going to be a minority.”

Mr. Abadi didn’t neglect the country’s Shiite majority either. By 2015, Ayatollah Sistani, arguably the most revered figure in the country, voiced strong support for Mr. Abadi and worked to ensure the militias remained by law ultimately under Iraqi government control. Mr. Abadi in turn has praised the cleric, even this week saying his call to form militias was a crucial move to save the country from Islamic State dominance.

In marshaling foreign and domestic support, Mr. Abadi’s government began racking up wins. In mid-2015 Iraqi forces took back Tikrit from Islamic State, their first major territorial victory. In November 2015, Kurdish Peshmerga forces pushed into the northern town of Sinjar, and the Iraqi military soon declared the Anbar hub of Ramadi free from militant control. The city of Fallujah fell months later.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, left, with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in June, has built an alliance with Iran to help defeat Islamic State.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, left, with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in June, has built an alliance with Iran to help defeat Islamic State. Photo: Iranian Supreme Leader/European Pressphoto Agency

In Mosul, where an offensive began last fall, Islamic State didn’t retreat but dug in deeper. Even as Iraqi forces surrounded the city and advanced, the militants used hundreds of thousands of civilians as human shields while stockpiling munitions and setting up snipers’ nests in the warrens of the old city.

Today, Iraqi forces are fighting scattered pockets of Islamic State fighters.

In east Mosul, shops selling mobile phones or fashionable jeans have reopened next to restaurants slicing up kebabs. Patrons smoked openly, even during the holy month of Ramadan—a display unthinkable under Islamic State control.

Still, seeds of new conflicts are just below the surface.

Iraqi soldiers are accused of beating and summarily executing unarmed men and boys fleeing fighting in the heart of Mosul. The most recent allegations come from a Human Rights Watch report released Friday. Because the military is seen as a Shiite institution and Mosul is predominantly Sunni, such abuses, real or even rumored, threaten to fan sectarian tensions.

The Iraqi government will investigate any credible cases of abuse, according to Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for Mr. Abadi, but he said those allegations must be based on evidence and not hearsay. Mr. Abadi has said he wouldn’t tolerate any human-rights abuses by troops.

In Anbar Province, tribal officials have exiled families of Islamic State members. In the city of Mosul, the city council recently passed a resolution declaring the same. Mr. Abadi has signaled he will use his federal authority to prevent the local government from taking such actions.

Mosul mobile-phone salesman Forat Latif said the environment is ripe for another antigovernment group to lure Sunnis into more fighting.

“We will go back to the same environment that created Daesh,” he said. “It’s the same cloud that brought all this rain.”
Inside the ruins of Mosul’s Al-Nuri Mosque on Sunday.
Inside the ruins of Mosul’s Al-Nuri Mosque on Sunday. Photo: ahmad al-rubaye/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Iraqi officials recently released a 10-year $100 billion reconstruction plan. The government doesn’t have the money, and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund haven’t come forward with funds. Last year, the IMF provided a $5.3 billion dollar emergency loan to help stabilize the country—a sizable contribution at the time but a fraction of what is needed now. Large sections of major cities like Ramadi and Mosul have been destroyed, with buildings, bridges and water mains turned to rubble.

During his tenure, Prime Minister Abadi has overseen an increase in oil production, which helped boost the country’s GDP last year by 11%, according to the IMF. Yet low oil prices have complicated Iraq’s efforts to pay government workers, who have sporadically taken to the streets to protest, and the non-oil sector of the economy is still reeling.

One of the biggest challenges for Mr. Abadi is the pressure from different Iraqi minorities for more autonomy. The Kurdish north, led by President Masoud Barzani, has been angling for independence for years, and last month announced it will hold a referendum on the issue in September.

Federal elections are scheduled for April, and Mr. Abadi may face rivals for his position. He has managed to remain on good terms with both Iran and the U.S.—with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praising the prime minister publicly in March.

But as the relationship between the U.S. and Iran deteriorates, there is a risk that Iran will back a challenger to the prime minister more clearly in Tehran’s camp. Mr. Maliki has remained a constant presence in the political realm.

Mr. Abadi may face his biggest test when Iraq and its foreign allies no longer share a common foe.

On Thursday, as he declared the end of the caliphate, Mr. Abadi stayed focused on defeating Islamic State. “We will continue to fight Daesh until every last one of them is killed or brought to justice.”

On the same day, though, brownouts in Baghdad left millions without power, showing the government’s limited capacity to provide public services to its people. Four improvised bombs, meanwhile, detonated in different areas of Baghdad, killing a handful of people. Such attacks are a reminder that the war against Islamic State is moving beyond the battlefield and into the daily lives of Iraqis, something they had hoped a prime minister would prevent.

—Ghassan Adnan in Baghdad, Asa Fitch and Ali A. Nabhan in Erbil, Iraq, and Dion Nissenbaum in Washington contributed to this article.
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Hill: Media Errors fuel Trump attacks on: July 04, 2017, 11:06:35 AM
137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump-Xi phone call on: July 04, 2017, 10:41:18 AM
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Puerto Rico on: July 04, 2017, 10:32:29 AM
139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Canada to pay Omar Khadr big bucks for ten years in Guantanamo on: July 04, 2017, 10:29:10 AM
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FY Baraq!!! on: July 04, 2017, 01:07:22 AM
second post
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pipes: Erdogan capable and willing to on: July 03, 2017, 10:45:35 PM
142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Russia's Great Power Strategy on: July 03, 2017, 10:42:54 PM
Trump-Putin Will Talk Against Backdrop of Broader Russian Mischief
Debate over Russia’s role in 2016 election blurs larger picture
Four Things to Watch for During Trump-Putin Meeting

The biggest event on the international stage this week will be the meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. WSJ's Gerald F. Seib sees four things to watch out for: their personal interactions, sanctions, Syria and Ukraine. Photo: AP
By Gerald F. Seib
July 3, 2017 10:59 a.m. ET

When President Donald Trump meets Russian leader Vladimir Putin late this week, many will be watching to see whether they discuss alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

That much is obvious. Less obvious, but more important, is how any Russian meddling in the American presidential-election season—whatever form it may have taken—fits into a much larger tale. This is the tale of a systematic Russian effort to disrupt democratic and capitalist systems internationally, using an updated version of tactics Mr. Putin learned in the bad old days of the Soviet KGB.

In fact, one of the dangers in the current hyperpartisan American debate over Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election is that it is blurring this larger picture. If the 2016 election was the tip of an iceberg, the rest of the iceberg warrants serious attention.

A useful reminder of the breadth of the problem comes in the form of “The Kremlin Playbook,” a publication released last October by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a centrist American think tank, and the Center for the Study of Democracy, a European public-policy institute. In retrospect, it was a remarkably prescient look at the controversies that have mushroomed since the American election that came a month later.

The Playbook is an in-depth study of Russian efforts to use overt and covert tactics over a period of a decade to expand its economic and political influence in five Central and East European nations. A group of regional leaders from such nations warned President Barack Obama in a 2009 letter—which also looks prescient now—that Russia was conducting “overt and covert means of economic warfare, ranging from energy blockades and politically motivated investments to bribery and media manipulation in order to advance its interests….”

The Russian strategy, the study finds, isn’t ad hoc. Rather, it is the implementation of a doctrine developed by Russian Gen. Valery Gerasimov called “new generation warfare.” One European analyst called that “primarily a strategy of influence, not of brute force” aimed at “breaking the internal coherence of the enemy system.”

The strategy, as it has unfolded in Central and Eastern Europe, proceeds along two parallel tracks, the study found. The first track is economic. Russia seeks to find business partners and investments that allow it to establish an economic foothold, which in turn produces economically influential patrons and partners who have a vested interest in policies friendly to the Kremlin. That is a particularly fruitful endeavor in Europe, where many nations depend on Russian energy supplies.

The goal on this track is to cultivate “a network of local affiliates and power-brokers who are capable of advocating on Russia’s behalf.”

The second track, perhaps more relevant to the U.S., is designed to disrupt prevailing democratic political patterns. The goal, the Playbook says, is “to corrode democracy from within by deepening political divides and cultivating relationships with aspiring autocrats, political parties (notably nationalists, populists and Euroskeptic groups), and Russian sympathizers.”
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On this track, the effort is designed in part to advance parties and figures sympathetic to Russia. But the broader goal is simply to disrupt the process, create confusion and discord, and discredit democratic systems both in targeted countries and in the eyes of Russian citizens, who are told the chaos to their West shows they shouldn’t long for a Western-styled democratic system at home.

A key tool in this effort, the report says, is a “war on information” campaign that uses disinformation and propaganda to disable opponents and foment nationalist and anti-Western sentiment. “Toward this end, Russia exploits existing political pressure points such as migration and economic stagnation, blames Western and U.S. operations for all negative international dynamics (such as the attempted July 2016 coup in Turkey), and discredits the current state of Western democracy,” the report says.

Remember that this was written before Mr. Trump won the American presidency and the investigations into Russian influence went into high gear. The findings are about a broader pattern of Russian behavior, not about what it might have done in the U.S. political system.

Yet these findings present a backdrop for both the current debate over Russia’s 2016 U.S. activities, as well as Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Germany this week.

Heather A. Conley, a senior vice president of CSIS and one of the authors of The Kremlin Playbook, says the months since its publication have brought “an acceleration” of Russian influence-seeking, ranging from a plot against the prime minister of Montenegro to interference in the French election to cyberattacks in Ukraine.

The goal, she says, “is disruption, to create governmental policies that accommodate Russian interests,” first in ending Western economic sanctions and then in building a broader sphere of influence. She adds:  “We continue to be unprepared.”
143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Jordan: on: July 03, 2017, 10:39:09 PM
Apparently King Abdullah is in Washington meeting with President Trump, Sec Def Mattis, et al.
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama meets with South Korean president to discuss Trump on: July 03, 2017, 10:34:08 PM
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: July 03, 2017, 10:22:02 PM

Is that a machete/small sword on the middle man's right side?
146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shocking! President Trump had sex with '98 Playmate of the Year on: July 03, 2017, 10:17:07 PM
National Enquirer Shielded Donald Trump From Playboy Model’s Affair Allegation
Tabloid owner American Media agreed to pay $150,000 for story from 1998 Playmate of the Year, but hasn’t published her account
Donald Trump and former Playboy model Karen McDougal
Donald Trump and former Playboy model Karen McDougal Photo: Associated Press; Getty Images
By Joe Palazzolo,
Michael Rothfeld and
Lukas I. Alpert
November 4, 2016

The company that owns the National Enquirer, a backer of Donald Trump, agreed to pay $150,000 to a former Playboy centerfold model for her story of an affair a decade ago with the Republican presidential nominee, but then didn’t publish it, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter.

The tabloid-newspaper publisher reached an agreement in early August with Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the Year. American Media Inc., which owns the Enquirer, hasn’t published anything about what she has told friends was a consensual romantic relationship she had with Mr. Trump in 2006. At the time, Mr. Trump was married to his current wife, Melania.

Quashing stories that way is known in the tabloid world as “catch and kill.”

In a written statement, the company said it wasn’t buying Ms. McDougal’s story for $150,000, but rather two years’ worth of her fitness columns and magazine covers as well as exclusive life rights to any relationship she has had with a then-married man. “AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump,” the statement said.

Hope Hicks, a Trump campaign spokeswoman, said of the agreement with Ms. McDougal: “We have no knowledge of any of this.” She said that Ms. McDougal’s claim of an affair with Mr. Trump was “totally untrue.”

Ms. McDougal expected her story about Mr. Trump to be published, people familiar with the matter said. American Media didn’t intend to run it, said another person familiar with the matter. Ms. McDougal didn’t return calls for comment.

Mr. Trump and American Media Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David J. Pecker are longtime friends. Since last year, the Enquirer has supported Mr. Trump’s presidential bid, endorsing him and publishing negative articles about some of his opponents.

In a written statement, Mr. Pecker said that it is no secret that he and Mr. Trump are friends and that he greatly admires him. However, he said, the Enquirer under his management “set the agenda” on Mr. Trump’s affair with Marla Maples when he was married to his first wife. “That in itself speaks volumes about our commitment to investigative reporting,” he said.

AMI covered some of Mr. Trump’s relationship with Ms. Maples after Mr. Pecker arrived there in 1998. However, Mr. Pecker had not joined the company when their extramarital affair was first exposed in the early 90s.

A contract reviewed by the Journal gave American Media exclusive rights to Ms. McDougal’s story forever, but didn’t obligate the company to publish it and allowed the company to transfer those rights. It barred her from telling her story elsewhere. The company said it also would give her monthly columns to write and would put her on magazine covers.

AMI said in a written statement the company was pleased to hire Ms. McDougal as a columnist.
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The tabloid publisher didn’t publish Ms. McDougal’s story of the alleged extramarital affair even after Mr. Trump’s alleged relationships with and comments about women became a campaign issue. In October, the Washington Post published a videotape made by “Access Hollywood” of Mr. Trump, in which he spoke of groping women. Several women subsequently said publicly that he had made unwanted sexual advances.

Mr. Trump has denied their accounts and apologized for his remarks on the tape, calling them locker-room banter.

Ms. McDougal, who continued modeling after appearing in Playboy, told several of her friends she had a relationship for about 10 months with Mr. Trump, beginning in 2006 and lasting into 2007, according to people familiar with her account. Another friend told the Journal that Ms. McDougal’s relationship with Mr. Trump lasted about a year.

A friend of Ms. McDougal’s recalled attending the Miss Universe pageant at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles as a guest of Mr. Trump in 2006. Mr. Trump’s limousine picked up Ms. McDougal and her at Ms. McDougal’s Beverly Hills home, and the two women sat in the front row with Mr. Trump and music producers Quincy Jones and David Foster. Mr. Trump escorted them home, the friend said.

Messages left with representatives for Messrs. Jones and Foster weren’t immediately returned.

In July, Ms. McDougal was in talks with producers at ABC News to tell her story, but she ultimately agreed to the deal with AMI, guided by her lawyer Keith Davidson, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

“I did indeed represent Ms. McDougal and currently represent Ms. McDougal in her negotiations with American Media Inc. to provide services to them,” Mr. Davidson said.

Mr. Davidson also represented Stephanie Clifford, a former adult-film star whose professional name is Stormy Daniels and who was in discussions with ABC’s “Good Morning America” in recent months to publicly disclose what she said was a past relationship with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the talks. Ms. Clifford cut off contact with the network without telling her story. She didn’t respond to requests for comment.

An ABC spokesperson declined to comment on Ms. McDougal or Ms. Clifford.

The Trump spokeswoman, Ms. Hicks, said it was “absolutely, unequivocally” untrue that Ms. Clifford had a relationship with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Davidson’s work for Ms. McDougal was in connection with “claims against Donald Trump and or assisting client in negotiating a confidentiality agreement and/or life rights related to interactions with Donald Trump and/or negotiating assignment of exclusive press opportunities regarding same,” according to a copy of Mr. Davidson’s agreement to represent her, which was reviewed by the Journal.

The agreement between Ms. McDougal and AMI doesn’t mention Mr. Trump by name, but gives the publisher the rights to “any romantic, personal and/or physical relationship McDougal has ever had with any then-married man.” The document says AMI is entitled to damages of at least $150,000 if she discloses her story elsewhere on social media or gives interviews about it.

Ms. McDougal hasn't appeared in or written for any AMI publications since signing the agreement, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump’s relationship with Mr. Pecker, the chairman of American Media, is well-documented. In the 1990s, when Mr. Pecker was president and chief executive of Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, the publisher put out “Trump Style,” a custom quarterly magazine distributed to guests at Trump properties.

As the presidential race ramped up last year, the Enquirer published a series of columns by Mr. Trump. One began, “I am the only one who can make America great again!” Another was headlined, “Donald Trump: The Man Behind the Legend!”

David Pecker cited the Enquirer’s coverage of Donald Trump’s extramarital affair with Marla Maples as evidence of his commitment to investigative journalism. This story has been updated to make clear that the affair occurred and was first revealed in the early 1990s, predating Mr. Pecker’s arrival at the company. The Enquirer did publish articles about Mr. Trump and Ms. Maples before his arrival in 1998 and continued to do so afterward. (Nov. 6, 2016)
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues on: July 03, 2017, 09:50:49 PM

While I get the three particular events mentioned in the article, I confess to not a little suspicion as to the criteria for calling a violent incident "terrorist" when it is not jihadi driven-- the numbers given (12% are jihadi) seem distinctly implausible.

There is also the matter of the larger world-wide Jihadi movement, , ,
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MEF: The Peril of Saudi Expansion in the Gulf of Aqaba on: July 03, 2017, 09:41:19 PM
A lot of subtleties in this one

The Peril of Saudi Expansion in the Gulf of Aqaba
by Cynthia Farahat
American Thinker
June 26, 2017
Originally published under the title "Gulf of Aqaba Treaty: a Saudi Repudiation of the Camp David Accords."
After more than a year of a heated debate, Egypt finally ceded two small Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia, giving KSA control over the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba. These waterways separate the Sinai Peninsula from the Arabian mainland and portions of the coastline are owned by Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Giving ownership of Tiran and Sanafir Islands and control of the gulf and straits to Saudi Arabia is a strategic mistake and a security threat for five reasons.

1) Almost every regime in Saudi Arabia has furthered expansionist, imperialistic agendas. Historically, Saudi rulers have attempted to lead the Muslim Umma (nation) by conquest or political and religious imperialism. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's seizure of power in 2015 wasn't smooth, there were and still are attempts to overthrow him.

The Saudi internal conflict will most likely escalate after King Salman's historic precedent to move the Saudi succession from the house of Abdulaziz ibn al-Saud to the house of Salman. King Salman may believe that asserting his territorial control of Gulf of Aqaba will help him strengthen his domestic position by increasing his regional and international power. Whether the Tiran treaty, and succession coup stunt works or backfires is yet to be seen.

Nearly all Saudi rulers have furthered a religious imperialistic agenda.

2) King Salman has allegedly agreed to a portion of the Camp David Accords, which guarantees Israel unfettered access through the Straits of Tiran. This acquiescence creates a serious catch-22 for the King. While the deal increases King Salman's regional power, an agreement with the Jewish state threatens his domestic authority, because he is bound by Islamic Sunni jurisprudence.

For example, the Saudi view of treaties with Israel was expressed by King Salman supporter and Saudi celebrity Sheikh, Salman al-Ouda. When Mr. al-Ouda was asked about the legitimacy of treaties with Israel, he answered with a Fatwa issued in 1988-1989 and signed by 60 Sunni scholars. It declared jihad against Israel adding, "under no circumstances is a person or an entity to recognize Jewish authority over any fraction of the land of Palestine."

If King Salman were to actually abide by any element of the Camp David Accords, his rule would become illegitimate according to Saudi Arabia's fundamentalist Islamic system. These are the views Saudi rulers indoctrinate their citizens to adopt as the sole legitimate Islamic position towards Israel.

3) According to the Sunni Saudi narrative, suicide bombings against Jews and non-Muslims is a legitimate form of dissent. For example, a member of Saudi Arabia's Supreme Council of Scholars and advisor at the Saudi Royal Court, Abdallah Ibn Man'a, previously stated in an official Fatwa, "The best form of jihad for Allah, is martyrdom in his cause. Whoever dies in such an operation, is a martyr."
Saudi Arabia's King Salman (left) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, April 8, 2016.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia indoctrinates its security officers into adopting the belief in suicide bombings. For example, former security police officer and current Muslim sheikh Sami bin Khalid Awad el-Hamoud received his Master's degree in Islamic jurisprudence from King SaudUniversity in Riyadh. His thesis was titled, "Suicide Operations: Its Forms and Its Jurisprudence," where he argued that any region governed by non-Muslim laws is a "house of war," where jihad in all its forms should be exercised.

Since Salman has never shown any intention of abandoning Islamic jurisprudence, which is Saudi Arabia's raison d'être, his only solution under Sunni theology would be to officially agree to the accords, but unofficially continue to support militant Islamic activities.

It's puzzling why Egypt and Israel would agree to further associate with King Salman, who was accused by German intelligence of financing terrorism in Pakistan and Bosnia. While Israel is officially granted freedom of passage in the Gulf of Aqaba by the Camp David Accords, there is absolutely no evidence that Salman will abide by the accords or that he would not abuse his power in the Gulf of Aqaba. This would deeply endanger both Egypt and Israel.
4) The possibility that King Salman will facilitate a jihadist migration into Sinai, given his history as a terror financier, is not far-fetched. The presence of more jihadists in Sinai would endanger both Egypt and Eilat. Sadly, this scenario is likely given the fact that KSA plans to build a bridge linking Sinai to Arabia. Many have taken KSA's newfound control of the Gulf of Aqaba at face value and celebrated it as a Saudi adoption of part of the Camp David Accords. The treaty should be more accurately viewed as a Saudi repudiation of the accords, given the negative possible outcomes for both Egypt and Israel's security.

A warning about Saudi control of Tiran and Sanafir, was communicated in a 1957 CIA intelligence brief titled, "Prospects of an Armed Clash in the Gulf of Aqaba." The brief warned -- "Saudi Arabia, which controls the east coast of the Straits of Tiran, could conceivably take unilateral action to prevent entry of Israeli or Israeli-bound vessels into the Gulf." The briefing continued, "In the event that Saudi forces were to occupy the islands they might attempt to control shipping through the straits of Tiran from positions on the islands." It's still 1957 in Saudi Arabia, and if Salman and his son are overthrown, the possibility of replacing them with an Iranian friendly option, such as Prince Ahmed bin Abdel Aziz al-Saud, would mean that a Saudi-Iran coalition could be created.

5) Signs of other security concerns caused by the treaty have already begun to manifest. The Muslim Brotherhood's Turkey-based Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC) has basically declared jihad in Gulf of Aqaba in an official statement on its official Facebook page. The ERC called upon Egyptians living in the cities overlooking the Red Sea to "struggle to liberate" the islands and the Gulf of Aqaba and treat them as "occupied territories."

Giving ownership of Tiran and Sanafir Islands to Saudi Arabia is a strategic mistake.

In another veiled call for terrorism, the statement also urged citizens to "treat all Saudi companies and institutions, as occupying forces." Not only does this destabilize Egypt's security, more dangerously it can inspire a coup d'état in Egypt. A coup could be launched with the excuse of defending Egyptian land, which may work given President el-Sisi's plummeting popularity after the treaty signing.

The issue of the Red Sea islands is part of a broader and reoccurring question of whether or not the free world should be making deals and treaties with Islamic theocracies. The international community would be well advised to refrain from further official treaties with Sunni and other theocratic nations, until these regimes reform their governments and recognize the modern international laws and treaties, to which they have already committed. Until that time, it is irresponsible to make treaties, which have repeatedly backfired. Saudi control of the Gulf of Aqaba, is almost as dangerous to regional peace as President Barack Obama's Iranian nuclear deal.

Cynthia Farahat is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and a columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Maqal.
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / These nine states will require passports for domestic air travel starting '18 on: July 03, 2017, 07:15:16 PM
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick on Ahlam Tamimi on: July 03, 2017, 03:55:53 PM

During their meetings yesterday with Jordanian King Abdullah, did US Defense Secretary Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Homeland Security Ray Kelly or Senior Presidential Adviser Jared Kushner bring up Ahlam Tamimi?

According to the Jordanian government press release, Abdullah was there on a "private visit," whatever that is. He didn't use his vacation to go to Disney World. He went to DC to talk to them about getting Israel to make concessions to the terrorists that run the Palestinian Authority as well as about fighting terrorism.

Well, Abdullah could do more to fight terrorism if he wanted to.

For instance, he could honor the US's extradition request for Tamimi, the mass murderer behind the 2001 Sbarro resturant bombing in Jerusalem. 15 people, including 7 children were massacred in the attack. Five members of one family were obliterated.

Tamimi is an unrepentant monster. And she's working as a TV host on Hamas TV in Amman. She uses her platform to incite terrorism.

In March Jordan rejected the US's extradition request.

How can Jordan be considered an ally in the US-led war on Islamic terrorism when Abdullah hosts Tamimi in this way?
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